Selling at Auction..Your guide in what not to do…

The big sale day has finally arrived. 

While most people are only too happy to tell you what they think your home is worth and how you should go about selling it, there is still such a thing as auction etiquette.

That means as well as there being a list of things you should do in preparation for selling your home, there’s also a list of things you should not do when selling your home at auction.

We asked three industry experts to tell us what vendors should not do on auction day. Here’s what they shared.

Don’t interfere with genuine bidders

President of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), Peter Bushby, says homeowners must never interfere with genuine buyers. It undermines the auction’s integrity and can scare away prospective buyers from making real bids.

“When you interfere, you can scare away real buyers.”

“Don’t arrange for your friends to bid to get the price up, or even bid yourself. This is wrong,” Bushby says.

“Most auctions will have as a condition that any vendor bids will be made by the auctioneer, and the limit is two.”

Don’t reveal your ideal price

Although it may be tempting, you should resist disclosing the price that the property will be put on the market for on the day of auction.

Friends on phones

It’s always wise to remain tight-lipped about your selling price.


“Don’t openly reveal your expectations,” says Bushby, “and certainly do not reveal the reserve price even to family and friends ahead of the auction, as rumours can spread quickly,” he states emphatically.

Inadvertantly or otherwise, you also should avoid talking up the property price by revealing your own expectations as to what it will sell for. According to the REIV President, this too has the potential to scare away buyers, “particularly if your expectation sits above what may be paid.”

Don’t over inflate your expectations

“While it’s good to be positive, it’s even more important to be a realist,”

“Although vendors don’t like to hear this, the only thing that generally stops a property from selling is its price,”

Bushby agrees, and says vendors should wake up on auction day guided only by the pre-auction buying market.

“The lead up to auction usually sets indications on the pricing, so listen to the feedback you get through your agent when finalising your reserve price ahead of the auction,” says Bushby.

Mosman house

Try to keep price expectations as realistic as possible.


Don’t let stress get the better of you

Dang, the auction has been a fizzer. But that doesn’t mean the game is over,

“The game is not over, you are simply entering the next stage of the auction campaign,”

Don’t put the property back on the market too soon

Anthy Paradisis says many properties are passed in at auction to the highest bidder and this person has the first right to negotiate.

So there’s no need to announce the property is on the market while the auction is still live unless, of course, it really has reached its reserve price and the bidding is hot.

“The highest bidder receives first right to negotiate to meet the vendor’s reserve price, or best case scenario price, or even the high ball price that’s set in this circumstances,” Anthy explains.

Agent and buyer

The highest bidder has the right to negotiate the purchase price.


Most negotiations meet at halfway price points. So if, for example, a property passes in at $1.1 million and the vendor’s realistic price expectation is $1.15 million, an agent should specify the vendor’s asking price is $1.2 million, Anthy says.

“The worse thing a vendor can do on auction day is to be conditioned by their agent to accept an unsatisfactory offer after an unsuccessful campaign.

“Most vendors do not realise they hold the trump card. The most important signature on the sale contract is their own, not the purchaser’s as a sale is only complete once the vendor has signed.”

Newtown: The inner-west bohemian borough seeing a new wave of gentrification…

6 things you should know about smart home technology…

You may have heard of a ‘smart home’ but what exactly can it do for you?

Getting the right smart home tech and using it effectively can make your home life a whole lot easier.

We spoke to a smart home tech industry insider to find out what smart homes can actually do, and how to get the most from your investment.

1. What is a smart home?

A smart home is when your lighting, appliances and almost anything that can be controlled by electricity – such as a garage door opener or electric gate – can be operated from a smart phone, voice command or by smart automations.

Smart homes allow you to optimise your home’s comfort settings. Picture: Clipsal


“The goal of a smart home is to simplify busy lives so we can enjoy more comfort at home, the way we want to enjoy it,” Tim Fant, Offer Manager at Schneider Electric says.

“It allows people to personalise their home and adjust their home controls as their needs change. A smart home should also provide increased peace of mind from added safety and security functions, as well as cost savings through improved energy efficiency.”

2. It will simplify your life

Smart home technology can be operated via remotes, phone apps, switches or voice control.

The all-new Clipsal Wiser™ Smart Home can integrate your garage door opener, an electric gate, lighting, heated towel rails, extractor fans, blinds, split system air-con units – basically anything that is wired in –  through one single app.

Think about how much simpler your life will be, not having to run around the house turning off all the lights – or checking that your kids have turned off the bathroom fan! Through a system like Clipsal Wiser™, this can all be done with the touch of a button.

Clipsal Wiser™ Smart Home can be integrated with home electronics and can be controlled through an app after it’s installed by a professional. Picture: Clipsal


“[The Clipsal Wiser™ Smart Home functions] can be set up by the homeowner to control multiple devices or appliances all from one wall switch, tap or voice command,” Tim says.

It also offers different options to customise your smart home to work for you.

“For example, you can have an ‘all off’ moment to turn everything off when you leave the house. ‘Movie time’ can dim the lights, close the blinds and turn on the TV and a ‘Welcome home’ moment could turn on your entry and kitchen lights, as well as the aircon.”

3. Improve home comfort without lifting a finger

You may already utilise timers on your heating and aircon, but there are other features of temperature control you may not have previously imagined.

Smart homes can be programmed to open and close your blinds for better light and temperature regulation. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy


“Clipsal Wiser automations can be programmed to be triggered by certain weather conditions, sunrise, sunset, temperature or humidity changes, motion detection in a room, a door or window opening or closing, or a combination of these conditions,” Tim shares.

“For example, your house can automatically close the lounge room blinds and turn on the air conditioning if it gets too hot inside the house. Or if the weather outside is getting windy, your house can automatically close the shutters.”

4. Feel safer and more secure with greater access and control

Some smart security features, such as security cameras and motion sensor outdoor lighting, are well known.

However, Tim says there are now new ways to add to your peace of mind even when you’re not there.

“You can set multiple schedules to turn lights on and off around your house to make it look lived in while you’re on holiday,” he explains.

You can even log in remotely while you are away and make changes to your home.

Furthermore, when it comes to the safety of your home and family, smart devices can detect and even help prevent significant damage, such as water leaks or high moisture in wet areas such as bathrooms.

5. A smart home can optimise your home’s energy use

A major misconception around smart homes is that due to added electrical features, they’re likely to run up your power bill.

Tim suggests that it should technically reduce your bills making them a good long term investment.

You can automate timers, like your pool pump, to ensure your home runs more efficiently. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy


“Smart homes should be less expensive to run, due to some energy saving features such as timers or schedulers to automatically turn off lights, heating or appliances when not in use,” he says.

“You can also schedule pool or spa pumps to run at times of the day that optimises your solar production.”

6. Remember, smart homes aren’t just for the wealthy

Many people think that quality automated systems are out of reach and only for high-end homes. However, they’re becoming more commonplace and accessible.

In fact, if you’re embarking on your renovation journey, factoring in a smart home system like Wiser might be well, a wise idea!

“Smart home technology was traditionally thought of as being for higher-end, expensive homes and only installed by specialist integrators,” Tim begins.

“Hence, it was believed to not be accessible to everyone. Now, with Wiser, it is accessible and can start from as little as one light dimmer right through to an entire home.”

That means if you’re renovating one room at a time, you can add the tech to the system as you go as it’s completely scalable.

Estimate your renovation costs

5 tips to organise your wardrobe for your COVID lifestyle…

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on all of us in so many different ways. One big change has been the way we dress day-to-day. 

As we head towards summer here in Australia, it’s a great time to clean out your closet but also think about how our wardrobes are best organised to suit your COVID clothing needs.

Those of us who are primarily working from home these days are more likely to be wearing more casual and relaxed clothing, meaning those blazers and high heels no longer need to be front and centre in your wardrobe. However, your dress sense doesn’t have to fly completely out the window.

woman working from home

COVID-19 has even affected the way we wear our clothes. Picture: Getty


Here are some things to consider when organising your wardrobe to best suit your COVID lifestyle.

1. Casual doesn’t mean productive

Even though you’re working from home, there have been a number of recent studies that suggest people are more productive at home when they wear work-like clothes.

Also, as we are all in the age of video conferencing, you want your colleagues, managers and clients to have the impression that you’re taking your job seriously and your attire is their first clue to that. So, make sure – at the very least – you are wearing an appropriate shirt or top.

wooden hangers built in wardrobe

Assess your new work style and consider how professional you’re coming across. Picture: Getty


Keeping these items grouped together in an easy-to-reach place in your wardrobe will help you remember how to dress for productivity.

2. Use the extra time to declutter

Let’s face the fact that we are all eating a little bit more during lockdown – and perhaps some of us have added a bit of weight.

Those elasticised waistbands may have become our new best friends, and I’m not going to beat anyone up for adding a kilo or two during these intensely stressful times.

I am, however, going to invite you to use this time to do yourself a much-needed favour and get to decluttering your wardrobe.

You may keep your stretchy pants.

 3. If it doesn’t work, let it go

Take this time to purge anything that no longer fits, that is no longer in style and that you frankly just aren’t wearing or are unlikely to wear in the future.

This is the time to ask yourself how many neckties you really need (are we still wearing neckties on video conference calls?) or how many pairs of work shoes need to be in our closets.

While working from home may not last forever, there is definitely a new mood around work dress sense. Go through your wardrobe and let go of items that no longer work for you.

wardrobe-study

Let go of the items that you don’t think you’ll wear again. Picture: Getty


4. Keep your favourites at hand

Make sure your closet is organised in a way so the clothes you are wearing most often are at eye level.

In the past, I’ve advocated that you organise your wardrobe based on season, putting the clothes you wear the least, up high.

With many of you working from home now, an alternative strategy of keeping items that are most regularly part of what you wear daily in an easily accessible spot may work better.

Accessibility is key to making your wardrobe work for you.

 5. Don’t forget the laundry

Finally, recent data suggests that we are buying far more groceries and eating at home more often than we used to. However, the one category that has gone down in terms of purchasing is laundry detergent.

clothes hanging on the line

Take a look at the clothes you’re wearing the most right now and assess how professional you’re looking. Picture: Getty


Perhaps we just don’t need to do as much laundry since we are at home much more. That might be the case, but whether it’s tracksuit pants, activewear or your favourite video-conferencing shirt, I’m hoping your laundry is done regularly and your clothes are fresh and clean, even if no one can smell you. You deserve to have clean clothes.

5 obvious things we are still forgetting when we move

What you shouldn’t forget when you move

Don’t stress, it happens to the best of us.

To prove it, we spoke to a cross-section of different folk – including professional declutter, Chelsea Smith of The Organising Platform – and asked them which vital items they’d forgotten when they moved to a new home.

Here’s what they said.

Electricity

Research from realestate.com.au shows that 30% of all movers still forget about connecting their electricity when they move.* 

“A friend moved house recently and didn’t tell her provider she was moving,” Chelsea shares. “She arrived, didn’t have electricity and couldn’t open her [electrical] garage door.” D’oh.

Professional organise Chelsea Smith reminds us to connect our electricity. Picture: Eugene Hyland


“She spent almost half of her moving day without electricity. It was one of those really hot days and she couldn’t put on fans or aircon.”

Save yourself any hassle by contacting your provider before you move.

Organise your electricity before you move to avoid winding up in the dark. Picture: Unsplash


Relevant keys

“When we moved house, we left a key to our safe hidden in the felt under a billiard table,” Deanna Nott from the Gold Coast begins.

“The safe came with us, but we were never able to get the key back because the new tenants refused to let us in to get it and claimed they could not find it! We had to get a locksmith to crack the safe.”

We all have little things that require keys, not least of all are safes containing precious items! Remember where you’ve hidden keys so you don’t get locked out of anything vital.

The bed (wait, what?)

Hear us out!

Jessica, a former Sydney resident who now lives overseas, once signed the lease on new rental property before ordering a mattress, only to then face a rather lengthy delivery time.

If ordering new furniture, make sure the delivery times align with your moving needs. Picture: Getty


“I was leaving a furnished property and I knew I was going to need a mattress; I just didn’t realise how long it would take,” she says. “I then spent the first month in my house sleeping on a single air bed.”

This is a good reminder for anyone buying new furniture suites or items that need to be delivered. Ensure you shop around in advance and check delivery windows to ensure they align with your moving plans.

The assembly order

You’re unlikely to forget the fridge itself (right?) but Chelsea warns against forgetting to organise your move so that your fridge is in your house and ready to go when you need it.

Organise your move so the fridge is the last thing out and the first thing in. Picture: Eugene Hyland


“For me, one of the hardest things to get right moving homes is timing,” Chelsea says.

“You will probably get rid of a lot of your fridge and freezer items, but there will be some things that can survive the transit. You still want to time moving your fridge or freezer so it’s one of the last things you take out and one of the first you move in to the new place.”

Essential supplies

Don’t forget to keep some essential supplies separate and have them at the house when you need them. Consider things like cleaning equipment, a vacuum and toilet paper.

“Having to run out and buy toilet paper while you’re busting and in the middle of moving is not the kind of race against time anyone enjoys,” says Rebecca from Sydney. “It happened to me once and I won’t forget it again!”

Sydney lockdown rules explained: What you can and can’t do…

Four Sydney council areas will go into lockdown late on Friday night as a coronavirus outbreak in the city keeps growing.

People who live in Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick and the City of Sydney, or who usually work in those local government areas, will have to follow the new tough restrictions starting 11.59pm on Friday and ending exactly a week later.

The people affected will only be allowed to leave home for four reasons:

  • Shopping for food and other essential things
  • Getting medical care or going out for compassionate needs
  • Exercising outdoors in groups no larger than 10 people
  • Essential work or studies that cannot be performed at home

“We understand this is a difficult time for everyone, however we need to take these steps now to get on top of this outbreak,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in a statement.

I don’t live in the four affected local government areas, but I do work there. Am I affected?

Ms Berejiklian said on Friday that if you have been working in the four affected local government areas either part time or permanently in the past two weeks you are subject to the stay-at-home order.

“So it doesn’t matter where you live. If you’ve worked in those four local government areas, you’re subject to that as well. That includes me,” she said.

“I don’t live in the four local government areas but I work in the CBD on most days, therefore, I am subject to the restrictions. I can’t leave my home, and that starts today.”

I recently visited one of those areas, do I have to stay at home?

People who have visited the four areas, but who don’t usually work there, will not be affected by the rules, a NSW Health spokesman said.

That means people who, for example, have gone to the CBD for dinner or a meeting in the past two weeks will not be included among those who have to lock down.

Do my partner, kids or housemates have to lock down?

No. People who are household contacts of someone who works in the four affected areas will be exempt from the rules, the spokesman said.

Can I visit the four affected areas?

If you don’t live there, you may only visit for “essential purposes” such as work, education or medical care.

A nurse conducts a COVID-19 swab test at the Rushcutters Bay mobile Covid testing clinic. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

A nurse conducts a COVID-19 swab test at the Rushcutters Bay mobile Covid testing clinic. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

I don’t live with my partner, can I visit them?

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said there will be some allowances made for visits to intimate partners.

“We always have some components which are around intimate partner visits, and that will extend in this circumstance,” she said. “But we are actually asking the community to work with us.”

Can I go out to get my Covid-19 vaccination?

Going out to get vaccinated will be considered essential and allowed as well.

I’m a Sydney resident who is not affected by the stay-at-home orders. Has anything changed for me?

Ms Berejiklian said restrictions in place for the greater Sydney community would be extended at least until midnight next Friday.

Those rules include a ban on travelling outside metropolitan Sydney for people who live in the City of Sydney, Waverley, Randwick, Canada Bay, Inner West, Bayside and Woollahra local government areas.

“Residents across greater Sydney should also limit unnecessary activity and avoid large gatherings in coming days and comply with the current restrictions,” the statement said.

The restrictions that were previously in place for greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour include:

  • Maximum of 5 guests, including children, allowed in households
  • Mandatory mask wearing in all indoor spaces outside of peoples’ homes, including workplaces and organised outdoor events
  • No standing and drinking at indoor venues
  • No singing by audiences or congregants indoors
  • No dancing at indoor venues or clubs, but for bridal parties under 21 people, dancing is OK
  • No more than 20 people in dance or gym classes, and all participants have to wear masks
  • No more than one person per four square metres allowed in indoor and outdoor settings, including funerals and weddings
  • No more than 50 per cent capacity at seated outdoor events
  • The “green dots” on public transport will be in effect again, limiting capacity on trains, buses, etc.
  • No travelling outside metropolitan Sydney for people living in Sydney’s inner west, Bayside, and Canada Bay areas

8 frequently asked questions when buying off the plan…

While there are many benefits to buying off the plan, it can still be quite a foreign concept for many Australians when it comes to purchasing a property. 

Like with many things in real estate, there are pros and cons to all options. The deciding factor, will often come down to what best suits your financial circumstances and lifestyle. That’s why it’s important to know what questions to ask a property developer or sale person.

To help you decide if buying off-the-plan is for you, here we take a look at eight of the most frequently asked questions asked by first-time off-the-plan property buyers.

 1. How much deposit do I need to buy off the plan? 

When buying off-the-plan, you’ll most likely need to pay a 10% deposit when you sign the contract, with the balance due when it’s finished.

Typically the developer receives the interest on the deposit. However, it’s always wise to ask the sales person this question, as often you can negotiate to share part or full payment of the interest with the developer.

Your deposit will be held in a solicitor’s trust account until the project is finished or the registration/sunset period expires.

2. How long does an off-the-plan apartment take to build

Construction times vary depending on the size of the building, with larger apartment developments usually taking longer to build.

3. Will my apartment be identical to the display?

The display suite will be a good measure of the quality of your apartment’s finishes, but beyond that, you’ll need to inspect what you expect and ask the sales consultant how your apartment will differ from the display, as there are usually many different apartment types within every building.

Ask whether the display is the same in terms of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom dimensions and layout.

First home: Tips for buying off-the-plan as a first time buyer
Search tool: Find new apartments

4. Do you pay stamp duty when buying off-the-plan?

Whether you pay stamp duty or transfer duty on your new off-the-plan apartment will depend on a few things, including what state you have bought in, the price of your new home and whether you’re a first-home buyer, owner occupier, local investor or foreign investor.  

However, most states have incentives and concessions that may reduce your stamp duty. For example, Victoria has the off-the-plan duty concession where the dutiable value of your home (the amount your stamp duty is calculated on) is calculated as the contract price minus any construction costs incurred on or after the contract date. So, if you and your property meet the eligibility criteria for this concession, you’ll pay a lower stamp duty amount.  

5. When is settlement for buying off-the-plan?

Your contract should contain the specific settlement details, but as a general rule of thumb, you will be obligated to settle within in two weeks of the registration of the unit’s plan.

6. Can I get a mortgage to buy off the plan?

Yes, you can get a mortgage for off-the-plan. It’s best to speak to your bank or financial adviser to find a loan that best suits your situation.

It’s worth noting, that fixing your interest rate is one way to minimise exposure to interest rate rises. However, locking in a fixed loan rate may mean you may have to pay break costs if you want to pay out the loan early.

More from Guides

How to buy a house before you sell your current home

Investor’s guide: Tips for buying off-the-plan as an investment

7. How much are the levies or strata fees for off-the-plan?

A levy is the fee that the owner of an apartment in a strata plan must pay to the Owners Corporation for the management and upkeep of the building and common property.

Levies are generally payable quarterly, with the cost varying from one building to another, depending on the facilities and the number of apartments contributing towards the building’s upkeep.

8. Can I negotiate off-the-plan prices?

While most off-the-plan properties come with a fixed price, vendors might still be open to a negotiation.

Your best bet is to get in early once the properties hit the market – or during pre-sales – as they will likely want to show a good sales rate during the early phase.

Caution needed when buying a house with a small deposit….

A total of 20,000 places will be made available from July 1 in schemes operated by the federal government where first-home buyers and single parents need only a small deposit.

However, while qualifying first-home buyers can put down a deposit of 5 per cent and single parents just 2 per cent, there are traps that await the unwary.

The government is making more places available in its low deposit housing schemes from July 1
The government is making more places available in its low deposit housing schemes from July 1..

Mortgage interest rates are at a record low but at some point variable mortgage rates will start rising. Four-year and five-year fixed-rate mortgage interest rates are already on the way up as lenders anticipate that official interest rates set by the Reserve Bank of Australia will be higher by then.

And though a rise in variable-rate mortgage interest rates could be as much as a couple of years away, once they do start to rise, they could rise quickly, substantially increasing repayments by those taking out a low-deposit mortgage at a bargain-basement rate of interest.

Calculations by Canstar show repayments of $2,690 a month on a $588,000 mortgage over 30 years, using a variable interest rate 3.65 per – the average on its database. The total interest paid is $380,350.

However, if after four years the mortgage interest rate increases by one percentage point to 4.65 per cent, the monthly repayment increases to $2,994 – just over $300 a month higher – and the interest paid would be $475,273.

Even though a one percentage point rise is relatively low by historical standards, is has a big impact on repayments. That is something anyone thinking of taking part in one of the government’s low-deposit schemes needs to keep in mind.

Of course, there are advantages of getting into the property market earlier with a smaller deposit. Price rises, though now beginning to slow, are likely to continue their upward march for some time.

A big plus of the low-deposit schemes is that the borrower does not have to pay for lenders’ mortgage insurance. Though the insurance reimburses a lender for any shortfall should a property be repossessed and sold for less than its outstanding mortgage debt, it is paid for by the borrower.

Normally, a buyer needs a deposit of at least 20 per cent to avoid having to fork out for lenders’ mortgage insurance.

Under the low-deposit schemes, the government becomes guarantor for borrowers, so the first-home or single-parent buyer does not have to pay for the insurance.

The other issue for anyone buying with a small deposit is the potential of “negative equity”, where the money owed on the house is more than it is worth, should property prices fall significantly.

Buyers do not give it much thought when prices are rising, but property prices do indeed fall.

For someone who is putting down a deposit of only 2 per cent, or even 5 per cent, that does not leave a lot of room for prices to fall before hitting negative equity.

5 smart things you should do when buying your first home….

Avoid worrying about what you may have forgotten by ensuring you’ve covered these smart essentials of home buying. 

When buying your first home, there are a lot of things you need to get in order. Some are obvious, like getting your finances together. However, some others aren’t quite as clear.

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, here are some essentials to consider before taking the plunge.

1. Get organised early

From home loan pre-approval to First Home Buyer Grant applications and everything in between, you’ll be expected to hand over piles of documents throughout the buying process.

Figure out a filing system – physical and digital – for all your relevant documents. Picture: Pexels.


Consider keeping an organised file of your pay slips, tax documents, copies of various ID (birth certificates, passports etc.), proof of shares, bank statements, written references and so on.

Also, consider whether you’ll need to have any of these documents certified and get on to this before you even start your property search. You don’t want to be rushing around taking care of nitty gritty details when you’re ready to make an offer.

2. Get thorough inspections

Before you’ve laid down any deposits, it’s vital to check off a few inspections, particularly a pre-purchase building inspection.

You may fear it will delay the purchase or add to your mounting costs, but this isn’t the section to skip!

A pre-purchase inspection can detect drainage issues, mould, rot, foundation and structural issues as well as a range of other faulty features in the home. It can also detect anything in need of repair or help estimate costs of repairs down the track.

Remember this may not include a pest inspection, which is also an essential step.

3. Create or update your will

For most of us, real estate will be our single largest asset. Therefore, it makes sense to create or update your will.

“It’s important that real estate is distributed in accordance with the homeowner’s wishes upon their passing,” State Trustees lawyer and will writer Jason Falzon tells realestate.com.au.

“If you pass away without a valid will (‘dying intestate’), intestacy laws will apply. This means that the law will dictate who receives your assets upon your passing,” Falzon says.

“These people may include family members who you are no longer in contact with and/or ex partners.”

This could likely become an issue for many especially if you do not have any immediate family, have a former spouse/defacto partner, a blended family or a complex relationship with your family member(s).

Even if you have a simple family structure, Falzon informs that “passing away without a will usually leaves behind an unnecessary mountain of stress for your loved ones during an already difficult time.”

Not having a will can result in unintended consequences for your assets and make things more complicated for loved ones. Picture: Pexels


Another reason to have a will is to legally record how you want real estate and other assets to be distributed.

For instance, do you want someone (say a housemate or relative like a parent or child) to live in your real estate after your passing but not necessarily inherit the asset itself? Put it in your will. Do you want to give your real estate and your household belongings to different people? Put it in your will.

Understanding the ownership of your real estate is also essential.

For example, did you buy real estate with another person? If ‘yes’, you should be made aware that if you own real estate ‘jointly’, a surviving co-owner will automatically receive your share of the real estate when you pass away regardless on the terms of your will. On the other hand, if you own real estate as a ‘tenant in-common’, your share of the real estate will be distributed through your will.

If you need help preparing a will or recording special wishes regarding your real estate, book a Will Consultation with an expert will writer who can guide you through the process and prepare a will for you.

Otherwise, if your circumstances are straight forward and you have the confidence to give it a go yourself, an Online Will is a great option.

4. Update your insurance policy

The admin is not over yet! Once your contracts are signed, you may want to update your insurance as soon as possible. While laws vary between states regarding responsibility for the home during the settlement period, in many cases you may need to get building insurance to cover your purchase ASAP.

Furthermore, contact your insurer to ensure your contents are covered during and after you move into your new place.

Ensure you have home insurance prior to moving in and then make sure your contents are covered too. Picture: Getty


Starting early on this step may also allow you to review your insurance policy and compare it to others on the market. Who knows, you may save yourself a few dollars at a time when it is desperately needed.

5. Triple check your budget

When buying a house, brace yourself for the many hidden costs that may arise.

When factoring in how much you can spend on a home, be sure to include stamp duty (in most states), council rates and Lender’s Mortgage Insurance if you’ve saved a deposit under 20%

Some hidden costs may be one-offs, while others you may need to pay more than once, such as conveyancing, building inspections, loan application fees and more. These can be particularly painful if your journey to homeownership is long and full of false starts or unsuccessful offers.

5 home updates to do NOW to ensure you’re ready for winter

Winter is just around the corner. Find out what you can do to update your home for the cooler times ahead.

Some aspects of your home don’t have to stay the same all year round. In fact, a few small changes can go a long way towards making your home more energy efficient, less expensive to run and more comfortable during the winter months.

Here are a few tips to help dress your home for the cold.

Choose blockout curtains
Preparing your home for winter is all about insulation. It’s officially time to layer up!

Your window coverings do more than control light filtration. Up to 40 percent of your home’s heat can be lost through the windows. Therefore, when it gets colder outside, it’s a smart idea to invest in blockout curtains for added warmth.

Blockout curtains help with energy efficiency and reducing draughts.

A good option is Spotlight’s range of blockout curtains which not only help block out light, but they also provide insulation to keep the warmth in and the cold out.

Spotlight also has options for thermal insulated curtains, which come with an acrylic backing layer for added thermal protection. With a range of colours and sizes, you can also find the best fit for each space.

Change your bedding
Most of us are well aware that we can add blankets for warmth, but have you thought about the role of your bedding?

Linen bedding can still be an asset in winter.

First of all, you may need to swap to a heavier duvet if you’ve been using a lightweight style for summer.

Next, consider warmer quilt covers and sheets. Flannelette is a popular option given its higher thread count. However, for something more breathable try a natural fabric such as linen. You just need to ensure you top it all off with something heavy and insulating on top, like a woollen blanket.

Block draughts
While blockout curtains can help reduce draughts around your windows, you should assess any gaps that create potential draughts and allow heat to escape and cool air to enter.

Draught protection may include re-caulking around windows and doors to seal any cracks. Even non-invasive, simple solutions like door snakes placed at your door to prevent air leakage can have an effect.

Moveable door seals are also an option for under-door gaps. However, nothing quite does the job like a door snake!

Add a rug
Rugs are also another layer of insulation, especially if you have hard flooring. While a looser weave or polyester fabric rug may do the job in summer, consider something heavier for winter. Think of it like a coat: you need quality materials to keep warm.

Put an underlay under your rug for extra insulation and comfort. Picture: Unsplash

However, if you don’t want to invest in a new rug entirely – or children or pets prevent you from opting for something pricey and harder to clean – consider adding an underlay to improve insulation and provide a cushier feeling.

Extra padding
While it might not revolutionise the temperature of your room, adding extra fabric items – like throws and cushions – can improve insulation and provide added warmth. Cool air can blow right through a room and even more so if it’s slicking off timber, tiles or across the surface of your leather couch.

Cushions and throws can make your place feel cosier in an instant. Picture: Spotlight

Draping a throw over your couch and layering a few plush cushions will not only keep you warm while nestling in to watch a movie at night, but will also create a warm look and feel to a room – which never hurts! Load up on wool, velvet and chunky knits to really capture that winter vibe.